Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959

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Author: Dwight D. Eisenhower  | Date: September 20, 1959

225
Statement by the President Following the Adjournment of the First Session of the 86th Congress.
September 20, 1959

THE 86TH CONGRESS is now half over, with some needed gains accomplished, but with many disappointing failures. In the second session I shall continue doing my best to assure responsible government for the American people.

When this first session began eight months ago, a greatly increased Democratic majority arrived in Washington apparently convinced, first, that there was still a recession; second, that it was bound to get worse; third, that heavy Federal "pump-priming" was our only salvation; and fourth, that they were mandated by the American people swiftly to enact these huge spending programs into law.

As a result, last January the majority in Congress sponsored many schemes to plunge billions of dollars into Federal programs which I opposed as unwarranted or excessive.

The American public at once and emphatically stepped in. By letters, telegrams, telephone calls and personal visits to their Congressmen, the folks back home demanded a halt to excesses being advanced in Congress. Before the session had been underway two months, the public hadforced the majority to shelve at least temporarily its more lavish proposals.

This was an historic turnabout. It is high tribute to the good sense and political vigor of our citizens. To me it is the most gratifying and most promising aspect of the work of the session just ended.

I feel much the same about the work of my fellow Republicans in this Congress. In both Houses they were powerfully led; they were unified; they had great fighting spirit; they rejected compromise on matters of principle. Therefore their influence upon majority decisions in Congress went far beyond their numerical strength. I think Americans generally feel as I do—that these Republican Senators and Congressmen well earned the Nation’s plaudits for their performance this year.

I pay my respects to those among the political opposition without whose cooperation our efforts against extravagance and legislative excesses would have been in vain. These men, though subjected to severe party pressures, had the conviction and courage to stand up and be counted on issue after issue basic to the welfare of the Nation. Sincerely I congratulate them for their good work for America this session.

Next I acknowledge, as I have each year, my appreciation to those members of both parties who have approached in a bipartisan manner most of the matters important to the Nation’s security and the conduct of foreign relations. To this standard of being Americans first and Democrats or Republicans second when the Nation’s safety and world peace are involved, all of us must steadfastly adhere. I am gratified that so many have done so.

Some important features of the Administration’s legislative program, submitted last January, were enacted into law.

We were able at last to take an important step toward labor reform. Here again I congratulate, most of all, the American people, for it was due to their outspoken indignation that ineffective legislation was set aside and that reasonably sturdy barriers were erected against abuses that for years have injured the cause of American labor.

Hawaiian Statehood also was a notable achievement—a great event that the American people have eagerly awaited many years.

The Congress initially refused to support the national highway program, except on the basis of piling up large additions to the already huge public debt. It is gratifying that the Congress finally agreed to a partial support of the program, but at a lower rate than I recommended.

There were disappointments, of course, as in all sessions. Foremost was the refusal to establish the necessary authority for sound management of the public debt. This refusal, by forcing the Treasury to rely exclusively on inflationary short-term borrowing, may reduce the contribution to price stability that a balanced budget helps to provide and could make most difficult the maintenance of confidence both at home and abroad in our determination to manage our financial affairs soundly. I am gratified, however, now to be able to reinvigorate our savings bonds program by bringing more equity to the millions of patriotic Americans who own and buy savings bonds.

Again the Congress refused to put our Postal Service on a self-sustaining basis.

Mutual security was deeply slashed, with potentially serious consequences for us all. I deplore the shortsightedness that this unfortunate action reveals. In these times especially, Americans are entitled to expect better of the Congress than this.

Nor can I fail to mention again my disappointment that the majority in Congress seems to find it so difficult to wean itself from the pork barrel. It is somewhat short of inspiring to see the Congress so insistent upon mushrooming the huge public works expenditures already being made at record levels throughout America. This action and others of a similar nature taken this session will surely make the difficult budgetary situation still more acute. For years to come heavier burdens will be imposed upon the taxpaying public.

The Congress again failed to make a realistic approach to our serious agricultural problems. Not only are taxpayers everywhere rightly troubled over the enormous and constantly mounting costs of present programs, but also our farmers have been waiting quite long enough for effective remedies. They are entitled to sensible legislation that will allow them to plan confidently for a secure future, with reasonable assurance that their lives will be free of oppressive governmental restraint. It must be distressing to millions of our people that the best the Congress could bring itself to do in this session was to attempt a return to programs discredited long ago.

There have been claims that the Administration’s Budget, submitted last January, was cut by the Congress. The Congress distorted the shape of the Budget in many respects—cutting where they should not have cut and adding, particularly in long-term items, vast sums that not only addto our financing difficulties but will also some day have to be paid by our grandchildren. Actually, the net effect of Congressional actions in this session is to increase, not decrease, Federal spending.

Finally, I remind everyone that the 86th Congress is only half over, and that it took an outspoken citizenry to divert it from its first purpose of having the Federal Government do new things it should not do—or more of the old than it should—at enormous cost to the public. The next session is only three months away. Should we again see extravagant proposals sponsored in the Congress, I shall continue to oppose them. I am confident of the continuing energetic support of the American people if such a struggle should develop. I believe that the American people can convert their gains for responsible government in this first session into. a complete victory in the second.

NOTE: This statement was released at Gettysburg, Pa.

On September 23 the Director of the Bureau of the Budget submitted, in response to the President’s request, a summary of the effect of congressional actions on the President’s budget recommendations for fiscal year 1960. This summary (7 pages) was released by the White House.

In brief, the summary stated that the net fiscal impact of all congressional actions during the session was as follows:

1. Net expenditures for fiscal year 1960 (i.e. spending required by congressional action over the President’s requests, plus revenues requested but not granted) were increased by $597 million.

2. Net expenditures over a period of years after 1960 were increased an additional $11.5 billion.

3. Pending legislation passed by one or both Houses and awaiting further action in the next session would cost an additional several billion dollars beyond the President’s requests.

The Budget Director’s summary contains an analysis of the tables in the Congressional Record of September 15, 1959 (vol. 105, p. D-926).

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Chicago: Dwight D. Eisenhower, "225 Statement by the President Following the Adjournment of the First Session of the 86th Congress.," Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.886 675–677. Original Sources, accessed August 21, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q78WXHLTVQBDHAF.

MLA: Eisenhower, Dwight D. "225 Statement by the President Following the Adjournment of the First Session of the 86th Congress." Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.886, pp. 675–677. Original Sources. 21 Aug. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q78WXHLTVQBDHAF.

Harvard: Eisenhower, DD, '225 Statement by the President Following the Adjournment of the First Session of the 86th Congress.' in Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.886, pp.675–677. Original Sources, retrieved 21 August 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q78WXHLTVQBDHAF.